Walkway extends over rooftop of Algarve farmhouse extension by Marlene Uldschmidt

Marlene Uldschmidt's extension to an old farmhouse in Portugal's Algarve region features windows that cover entire walls and a paved rooftop promenade that affords views of the rural landscape (+ slideshow). 

Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects

The 120-square-metre extension provides a lounge and dining room for Casa Vale de Margem, a single-storey farmhouse located in a rural part of the Algarve – a popular tourist destination and the southernmost region of Portugal.

Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects

Local studio Marlene Uldschmidt Architects added the wing to the corner of the L-shaped farmhouse, freeing up space within the old building for bedrooms, bathrooms and a kitchen.

The extension comprises a series of split levels that rise with the sloping topography.

Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects

Grooved clay tiles cover the floors of the extension, adding warmth to the white walls and referencing the materials used in the original farmhouse.

Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects

The same tiles cover the flat roof of the new wing, providing a walkable surface that can be used as a viewing platform to survey the surrounding farmland.

Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects

"The intervention should be balanced harmoniously and above all integrated with the surrounding open countryside," explained Uldschmidt. "In order to create spaces flooded with light and air, a white contemporary building as an additional wing was created to take advantage of the open aspect to the west."

Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects

"The challenging topography of the site was integrated into the concept at an early stage by creating several layers inside the building which connect the open-plan spaces," she added.

Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects

Due to the slope of the site, the extension is slightly elevated above the level of the existing house.

Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects

The extension wraps around a narrow patio, protected by a stone wall built from boulders unearthed during the excavation for the foundations.


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This wall screens the house on one side, softening the transition between white walls and the landscape.

Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects

While the outward face of the wall features exposed stonework, the inside face is plastered white in keeping with the white walls of the house.

"A long external retaining wall wraps a protective cloak around the main building, mimicking the topography and makes the transition between the land and the building," explained Uldschmidt.

Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects

Large glazed doors slide open to link the new living spaces with the gravelled patio and gardens, which feature sparse planting and low stone walls.

Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects

Uldschmidt set up her architecture studio in 2004 and launched the interior design company Ultramarino in 2011. She has previously designed a split-level home built into the side of a hill in the Algarve fishing village of Ferragudo, where her studio is also based.

Photography is by Fernando Guerra.


Project credits:

Architects: Ultramarino | Marlene Uldschmidt Architects
Project author: Marlene Uldschmidt
Team: Maurícia Bento
Structure: Protecna Engineering Team
Carpentry: Equipa Quatro, Comércio e Construcões

Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects
Strategy diagram – click for larger image
Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects
Roof plan – click for larger image
Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects
Section one – click for larger image
Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects
Section two – click for larger image
Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects
Section three – click for larger image
Casa Vale de Margem by Ultramarino Marlene Uldschmidt Architects
Section four – click for larger image